Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has revealed that he thinks about winning the Ballon d’Or “all the time” but insists that it is not an obsession for him.
The prize, given to the outstanding footballer in any calendar year, has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over the course of the last 11 years, with Luka Modric the sole interloper to the duo’s control of the award since 2009.
France Football, the organisation which runs the competition, has announced that it will not be awarded in 2020 for the first time since its inception in 1956 owing to the chaos that the coronavirus crisis has plunged football into.
After playing a key role in Madrid turning around a deficit to Barcelona at the summit of La Liga, Benzema might ultimately have been seen as a candidate to win it this year, and he admits that it has been something of a goal in his career.
Asked on his YouTube account if he thinks about winning the gong, he said: “Sure, all the time, from my childhood, but it’s not something that drives me crazy. You always think of the Ballon d'Or when you are a professional footballer and when you are competitive.
“I never try to define myself by my playing position, as a number nine or not a number nine, as 10 or 11; I am a football player and I try to be the best player in the world.”
Another candidate might have been team-mate Sergio Ramos, whose goalscoring exploits were critical to Madrid lifting the Spanish crown. He is a player Benzema rates as one of the two toughest defenders he has ever faced.
When questioned over his most difficult defensive opponent, he said: “There is not one, there are two. Ramos and Raphael Varane, when I face them in each training session.”
Controversially snubbed by the France national team, Benzema says he has no regrets on that front.
Asked if he would trade the four Champions League titles he has won with Madrid for the 2018 World Cup, he said: “No, not at all.
“I regret nothing. And what I’m most proud of is having been a champion at Real Madrid.”
Meanwhile, he snubbed former team-mate Ronaldo when asked who the best dribbler in the modern-day game is, instead opting to name a Paris Saint-Germain star.
“Neymar, and you can stop there,” he said when asked for his top five.
He would not, however, be drawn into predicting the game’s next big things.
“I don't know, because things in football change very fast. The problem is to be good throughout the season and win titles with your team. By scoring three goals in one game, you are not a world star,” he said.
Benzema will hope to continue Madrid’s run of success in the Champions League, but they must turn around a 2-1 deficit to Manchester City away from home in the last 16 if they are to progress to the latter stages of the competition in Lisbon.